The Oakland Raiders drafted Eldridge Dickey 25th overall in the 1968 draft, according to ESPN’s The Undefeated. Making him the first African American quarterback to be drafted in the NFL, however, he never played a game in the pros at the quarterback position despite having a successful career at Tennessee State, which included him being named an HBCU All-American three-time.
Unfortunately for Dickey, he was drafted the same year as, Ken Stabler out of the University of Alabama, who was selected in the second. He would move to the wide receiver and finished his career with the Raiders with five catches for 112 yards and a touchdown before being released in 1971.
“If someday I become a star, I’d like to know I had to do it just the way I did – so when they write the book they’ll say, ‘He came in an All-American quarterback and they switched him and he had to earn it,’” Dickey told the Oakland Tribune.
The same year Eldridge Dickey was selected, Marlin Briscoe was also drafted by the Denver Broncos and was asked to change position and play cornerback. Briscoe refused and threaten to go return home to become a teacher, if he was not able to compete for the quarterback position.
The Broncos agreed and he became the first black quarterback to start a game in the American Football League.
“It’s just so many different historic things that happened in the year 1968, it was unfathomable,” Briscoe, now 73, told The Associated Press. “It just seemed poetic justice, so to speak, that the color barrier be broken that year at that position. For some reason, I was ordained to be the litmus test for that. I think I did a good job.”
Twenty-years later, Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
“The more I’ve known him and been around him and talked to him, you’ve got to give him respect for what he did during that time and what happened to him after that time,” Williams said. “That’s the part that gets me. But that’s the time he was in.”
Since Williams reached the Super Bowl, five other black quarterbacks [Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson, Steve McNair, Patrick Mahomes, and Cam Newton] have achieved the feat, but only Wilson and Mahomes have been fortunate enough to join Williams in the win column. Wilson helped the Seattle Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos, and Mahomes helped the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
Last August, I spoke with McNabb about him being one of the four black quarterbacks to reach the Superbowl at the time.
“I feel honored, but we were all blessed with talent around us that propelled us to have that opportunity. Also, to be mentioned with Steve McNair, Doug Williams, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton, is an honor. All of us would have loved to be on top at the end of the Superbowl,” said McNabb.
“However, it is still an honor that not everyone has been able to accomplish. So, it says a lot about our careers and the work ethic we put forward to get to the Superbowl, but it also says how blessed we were with talent and great coaching around us to get there.”
On April 15, 2019, the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson agreed to a 4 year extension worth $140 million. The deal also included a $65M signing bonus, $107M of total guarantees, and an average annual salary of $35M, according to Sportrac.com. Making him the highest paid quarterback at the time.
Earlier this year, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Maholmes surpassed Wilson’s deal when, he signed a 10-year extension worth approximately $450 million, which would come with an annual salary of $45 million per year, according to David Samson.
“I will not let the listeners of Nothing Personal be led astray by the musings of the crazed media who are trying to have as much hyperbole as possible all contained within a single full-screen graphic,” he said.
He explained, “The 10-year extension is worth approximately $450 million. That’s $45 million per year, not $503 million over 10 for an average annual value of $50.3 million.”
Some other quarterbacks that are in line to receive big contacts in the next couple of years include Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson.
NFL great Nick Fergerson was recently on the ‘What’s Your Opinion’ Podcast, and shared his thoughts on the potential of the top five highest paid quarterbacks all being black.
“I think it is a beautiful thing because if you look at where the African American quarterback has come from. And for the sake of the conversation I will say African American quarterback because I just call them quarterbacks. There shouldn’t be any differentiation between the two. It’s a long time coming and when look at some of the quarterbacks, that have paved the way for what guys are dealing with now,” said Ferguson.
“You look at Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham to name a few, and Doug Williams being another guy. So, I think those guys stand proud and that just shows how some teams have changed their mind about the African American quarterback. But, also how the game has changed from where they weren’t able to display their skill set.”
Ferguson played 10 seasons in the NFL as a member of the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and the Houston Texans.